Monday, September 30, 2013

How this nonsense would look from the outside

How would we cover it if this shutdown of the federal government were happening somewhere else?

Slate attempts to answer that question. It's a revealing read.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Ten in a row gets it done

It only took the longest winning streak to close the season in Cleveland's history to make the playoffs --- but that's just what they've done.

Pardon me while I wear a very pleased smile over the next few days. On Wednesday, the Indians host the winner of a tie-breaker Monday between Tampa Bay and Texas.

The winner of that game gets to play Boston in the divisional playoffs. The Red Sox merely put up the best record in the American League.

But I'll only fret about that if the Indians win Wednesday. Considering the Tribe lost at least 93 games in 3 of the past 4 seasons, to win 92 this year and make the playoffs is quite an accomplishment. And to do it with their top pitcher on the disabled list and their closer having a late-season meltdown is remarkable indeed.

So I'm going to wear my Chief Wahoo tie to work this week and smile.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

"A swing and a drive....."

It's late September, meaning baseball season is down to its dying embers.

Against remarkable odds, my Cleveland Indians are still alive for the playoffs with only a half-dozen games left. In fact, they hold one of the two wild card spots.

But their hot-and-cold closer has just given up two home runs in the top of the 9th to blow the lead --- and, it seems, the game. That, in turn, would erase the tenuous hold on that playoff spot for the Indians.

Before you know it, there are two outs in the bottom of the 9th for the Indians. Hope is fading. And then this happens.

Monday, September 23, 2013

First snow of the season!

In Montana, at least.......

Friday, September 6, 2013


Speaking of a family's sacrifice in the time of war, this scene from "Saving Private Ryan" never fails to move me deeply.

It is, indeed, an actual letter written by Abraham Lincoln to a woman whose five sons served in the Civil War. However, Lincoln was incorrectly told all five were killed in battle.

In truth, only two of the five sons died in battle. The other three survived the war.

For Love of a Brother

The ESPN documentary series "30 for 30" has presented some wonderful pieces in its fledgling existence. One of its most recent offerings, a short film called "Arthur and Johnnie," touches particularly close to home for me.

The film explores how the Ashe brothers, Arthur and Johnnie, were both serving in the U.S. military in the late 1960s.

After seeing multiple sets of brothers killed in action in World War II, the U.S. Army adopted the Sole Survivor Policy in 1948. Other branches of the military adopted similar codes generally preventing brothers from serving in combat operations at the same time.

Johnnie was sent to Vietnam. In keeping with the policy, Arthur, a blossoming tennis star, was sent to West Point.

Recognizing that his brother had a year of military duty still to serve, and realizing that Arthur could be sent to Vietnam once his own tour of duty there had ended, Johnnie volunteered to serve a second tour in Vietnam.

That spared Arthur Ashe from combat in Vietnam. Johnnie sensed Arthur didn't have the disposition to handle combat and he knew his brother had the chance to become a pioneer in tennis. That's just what Arthur did, becoming the first black man to win the U.S. Open, Wimbledon and the Australian Open. He went on to become a legend as a tennis star and as an international humanitarian. He didn't know of his brother's sacrifice for years. Johnnie told no one except their father.

This story resonates because my father was drafted to serve in World War II. Normally, when a family has multiple eligible sons, the oldest son was the one drafted.

But in the case of the Finger family in Larned, the oldest brother - Leonard - was skipped. Instead, Marvin Finger was tapped by the draft board.

It wasn't until after Marvin returned home to Larned after the war that he learned from the head of the local draft board that his father had told them to pick Marvin instead of Leonard.

As Francis Finger had put it, Leonard was too valuable to the farm to go off to war. In other words, Marvin - who liked to joke and laugh and often drew criticism from his stern family that he didn't take life or work seriously enough - was expendable. Leonard was not.

But my father wasn't crushed by that revelation.

"It's a good thing I was sent overseas instead of Leonard," he would tell me years later. "Leonard wouldn't have been able to handle combat. He wouldn't have made it home."

Dad, like Johnnie Ashe, made it home from combat. They both paid high prices internally for what they endured. Dad also suffered physical injuries that dogged him the rest of his life.

Yet it was a price he was willing to pay for the sake of his brother. Much like Johnnie Ashe would later do for Arthur.